Yesterday, I got an email from Margaret telling me about this talk by Shane Claiborne. I didn't know who Shane was until yesterday, but what caught my eye was that he lives among the poor in urban Philadelphia, and has done many radical things while preaching the Gospel. Since I'm going to be in Philly next year and working with inner city children is in my future plans, I thought I would go and hear what he had to say. Wow. I'm so glad I went. I got there 5 minutes late, and the First Methodist church sanctuary was completely packed!
Shane talked about many things, and shared many stories. I took a lot of notes. What struck me is that he doesn't look like your typical pastor - he was wearing a tunic-like outfit, had dreadlocks, and was wearing a bandana. He spoke with such passion, though, and completely captured my attention for the whole 2 hours he spoke.
Here's some good quotes from the talk. I'll let his words speak for themselves.
"Does God's dream look like the American dream? The world cannot afford for us to all live the American dream."
"God is still good no matter what happens on Wall Street."
"How can we worship a homeless man on Sunday and ignore one on Monday?"
"Stop complaining about the church and create and be the church that you're dreaming about!"
On speaking about being discontent with the church - "The church is like Noah's ark - it stinks inside, but if you go out, you'll drown!" "The church needs frustration and discontent in order to grow."
Here's the outline from his talk - thought I'd share, because I got a lot out of it!
1. To be Christian means seeing ourselves move toward suffering.
- our role is to interrupt the patterns of injustice in this world
2. Shared economics - share what you have!
- if you have 2 of something, give one away
- our stuff is God's stuff - giving it away will bless you as well!
- $450,000,000 in medical bills paid - 20 years ago, Shane's community realized so many of its members had no health care. So every time someone was in the hospital, they would come together, pray for healing, and pool money to help pay for medical bills. In 20 years, their community has grown to 20,000 people, and they've paid over $450 million dollars for medical bills!! That's a lot of money!!
3. Hospitality - welcome the stranger
- Shane shared a story of this couple who lived in the suburbs and realized they didn't know their own neighbors. While walking around one day, they were praying for God to show them someone who needed help. They met a pregnant woman who was homeless, and invited her into their home. She had her baby there, and the couple was overjoyed because they had always wanted a baby but weren't able to conceive one. They supported the young mother through nursing school, and the mother and daughter lived with them for 12 years! The woman (who invited them in) eventually died, but she had a nurse by her side taking care of her. :) Sweet story.
4. Church commitment to reconciliation
- "the most segregated hour in America is 11 AM on Sunday morning" - convicting.
- see the community in living our common lives!
- macro church (on Sunday) and micro church (everyday communities)
5. Church called to celebrated singleness AND marriage
- no matter what God calls you to, choose what allows you to serve God the most single-mindedly.
- our deepest longings are not for sex but for LOVE and ACCEPTANCE
6. Caring for our creation
- it matters because God cares about the earth and how we steward it!
- 60% of children in poor communities have asthma - environmental racism
- how can you believe you have a beautiful Creator when everything around you is falling apart?
- Shane shared about the importance of community gardens in the inner city - places where growth happens and children are able to see and experience the beauty of nature.
7. The church's commitment to peace making
- humbles YOURSELVES and teach the way of nonviolence to the world
- love is not easy; it's often harsh and difficult.
He's written a few books, The Irresistable Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical, and Jesus for President: The Politics of Ordinary Radicals. Check them out - I plan on reading these myself. :)